Crane-Johnson Lumber Company

In 1883 Cooperstown was in the throes of early growth.  Lumber up to that time had been hauled overland from Valley City, a slow, tedious process that each individual builder was forced to assume for himself.  Meanwhile, the rapidly increasing population in the county, the influx of settlers streaming into the territory by twos, threes and fours, some on covered wagons pulled by teams of oxen, demanded the creation of a lumber service.

Maynard Crane opened the first lumber plant in Griggs County on March 1, 1883, in Cooperstown.  He operated the business alone for almost a decade.  In 1887 he employed a farmer-settler from southern Nelson County, John E. Johnson.  In 1896 Johnson became a partner in the business and the firm became known as Crane-Johnson.

In 1890 Crane-Johnson expanded to Hannaford, with Archie Sinclair manager there.  Twelve years later when the Sanborn Cooperstown and Turtle Mountain Railway had been expanded to McHenry another yard was established at that point and the manager's job was given to F. C. Potter of Sanborn.  Potter was brought to Cooperstown in 1907 and seven years later became general manager of the corporation, a position he held until his death in 1935.

The company continued to establish yards in many other communities.  In 1932 the general office was moved to Fargo.  Maynard Crane remained president of the company until his death in 1947, at the age of 92.  After Crane's death, Ward D. Briggs became president.  In 1956, after the death of Briggs, Andy Hvidsten became president and served in that capacity until his death in 1968.  Lee Briggs, son of Ward, succeeded to the presidency, and is president at this time.

The managers and the yards they operate are: 

Ted Sonderby, Cooperstown

Warren Stromberg, Hope

Charles Tabor, Mayville

Myron Lonneberg, Enderlin

Grant Walker, Lidgerwood

Herbert Werner, Fargo

Paul Vance, West Fargo

Sterling Haugen, Pelican Rapids, Minnesota

Roger Haugrud, Perham, Minnesota, and Robert Cameron, Hallock, Minnesota.

Crane-Johnson Company was incorporated in 1903 with capital stock of $100,000 by Maynard Crane, John E. Johnson, G. E. McConnel and E. F. Crane.

F. C. Potter was appointed manager of the Cooperstown yard in 1907 and served in that capacity for seven years.  When he was made general manager of the firm,

A. K. Sorvik became manager of the Cooperstown yard.  Jim Hovern succeeded Sorvik and served as manager until 1938.

In the spring of 1938 a new office was built onto the yard and was almost completed when a fire broke out June 10 and the entire yard was destroyed.  The company rebuilt immediately and the new yard was completed and open for business August 27 of the same year.  Leonard Thorson was manager of the new yard, the most modern in North Dakota at that time.

In 1946 Thorson was transferred to West Fargo, and Ben H. Fink became manager until his retirement in 1967.  Ted Sonderby is the present manager,

In 1974 extensive remodeling was done at the Cooperstown yard to enlarge the display area.

Source Page: Griggs County History 1879 - 1976 45

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